German submarine U-438

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Career
Name: U-438
Ordered: 16 Oct 1939
Builder: Schichau-Werke, Danzig
Yard number: 1480
Laid down: 25 April 1940
Launched: 6 September 1941
Commissioned: 22 November 1941
Fate: Sunk, 6 May 1943[1]
General characteristics
Type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke F46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296.
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 15,170 km (8,190 nmi) at 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced
150 km (81 nmi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Armament: 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four bow, one stern)
14 × G7e torpedoes or 26 TMA mines
1 × 8.8 cm (3.46 in) deck gun (220 rounds)
Various AA guns
Service record[2][3]
Part of: 8th U-boat Flotilla
(22 November 1941–31 July 1942)
9th U-boat Flotilla
(1 August 1942–6 May 1943)
Commanders: Kptlt. Rudolf Franzius
(22 November 1941–29 March 1943)
KrvKpt. Heinrich Heinsohn
(30 March–6 May 1943)
Operations: 1st patrol: 1 August–3 September 1942
2nd patrol: 6 October–19 November 1942
3rd patrol: 31 December 1942–16 February 1943
4th patrol: 31 March–6 May 1943
Victories: Three commercial ships sunk (12,045 GRT)
one commercial ship damaged (5,496 GRT)

German submarine U-438 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

The submarine was laid down on 25 April 1940 at the Schichau-Werke yard as 'Werk' 1480 in Danzig, launched on 6 September 1941 and commissioned on 22 November 1941 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Rudolf Franzius.

The city of Berlin adopted the submarine within the popular sponsorship programme (Patenschaftsprogramm), organising gifts and holidays for the crew and earning her the honorary name of U-438 Berlin. The U-boat served with the 8th U-Boat Flotilla for her training and later with the 9th Flotilla from 1 August 1942 to her loss on 6 May 1943. U-438 completed four patrols, sinking three ships, totalling 12,045 gross register tons (GRT) and damaging one ship totalling 5,496 GRT.
She was a member of ten wolfpacks.

Service history[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

U-438 sailed from Kiel in Germany, on 1 August 1942 and headed for the mid-Atlantic. On 10 August she took part in a "wolfpack" attack on Convoy SC 94, south of Iceland. She fired a spread of torpedoes simultaneously with U-660, hitting the Greek 4,439 ton cargo ship Condylis[4] and the British 6,008 ton Oregon[5] on the port side, while U-660 hit them from starboard. Both ships, badly damaged, fell behind the main convoy and were sunk by U-438 several hours later.

On 11 August U-438 joined Wolf pack 'Lohs', which operated in the north Atlantic.[6] On 25 August U-438 attacked convoy ON 122, which she had been stalking since the 22nd,[7] sinking the Norwegian 1,598 ton merchant ship Trolla.[8] Several hours later U-438 was detected on radar by the Norwegian Flower class corvette HNoMS Eglantine (K197), and within a few minutes the ship spotted the surfaced U-boat in fog and opened fire with her 4 inch gun, before attacking with depth charges as U-438 crash-dived. The corvette continued to attack, forcing the U-boat to the surface after the bow compartment was flooded. Unable to dive, U-438 escaped in the fog. After making repairs she was ordered to return to base, arriving at Brest in occupied France, on 3 September.[9]

2nd patrol[edit]

U-438 sailed from Brest on 6 October 1942. On 2 November in an attack on Convoy SC 107 about 450 miles east of Belle Isle, she torpedoed the British 5,496 ton cargo ship Hartington,[10] which had already been damaged by a torpedo from U-522, the abandoned ship was finally sunk by U-521 two hours later. U-438 returned to Brest on 19 November.[11]

3rd patrol[edit]

U-438 left Brest again on 31 December 1942 for another mid-Atlantic patrol, but had no successes before returning to base on 16 February.[12]

4th patrol and loss[edit]

Since her commander, Rudolf Franzius, was ill, Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Heinsohn, originally commander of U-573 and recently returned from Spanish internment, was given command of U-438. She sailed from Brest on 31 March 1943[13] and was unsuccessfully attacked by a Catalina flying boat of 5 squadron, RAF on 4 May 1943. On 6 May the U-boat was sunk with all hands, north-west Newfoundland at position 52°00′N 45°10′W / 52.000°N 45.167°W / 52.000; -45.167Coordinates: 52°00′N 45°10′W / 52.000°N 45.167°W / 52.000; -45.167, by depth charges from the Egret class sloop HMS Pelican.[2]

Raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
(GRT)
Fate
10 August 1942 Condylis  Greece 4,439 Sunk
10 August 1942 Oregon  United Kingdom 6,008 Sunk
25 August 1942 Trolla  Norway 1,598 Sunk
2 November 1942 Hartington  United Kingdom 5,496 Damaged

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1997, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, pp. 114-115.
  2. ^ a b "The Type VIIC boat U-438 - German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  3. ^ "War Patrols by German U-boat U-438 - Boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  4. ^ "Condylis (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  5. ^ "Oregon (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  6. ^ "Wolfpack Lohs - German U-Boat Operations". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  7. ^ "Convoy ONS-122 - Convoy Battles - German U-Boat Operations". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  8. ^ "Trolla (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  9. ^ "Patrol of U-boat U-438 from 1 Aug 1942 to 3 Sep 1942 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  10. ^ "Hartington (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  11. ^ "Patrol of U-boat U-438 from 6 Oct 1942 to 19 Nov 1942 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  12. ^ "Patrol of U-boat U-438 from 31 Dec 1942 to 16 Feb 1943 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  13. ^ "Patrol of U-boat U-438 from 31 Mar 1943 to 6 May 1943 - U-boat patrols - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
Bibliography

See also[edit]